On Wednesday we left Cordoba and drove to Granada. All we saw along the way was almond trees endless olive groves and the odd castle, so uninhabited and desolate that Tony thought there was a slim chance of seeing aircraft debris. After about 100 miles we arrived at the campsite just about 22kms outside Granada facing the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada.
The city of Grenada is one of the great destinations of Spain, home to Andalucia’s most precious monument, the Moorish Alhambra palace and gardens, the city also preserves the old Moorish quarter of Albaicin and gypsy barrio of Sacromonte.
Yesterday we caught the bus into Granada and walked straight to the Alhambra Palace which is accessed up quite a steep hill but a pleasant walk through trees and the sounds of trinkling water. We had timed tickets to see the Palacios Nazaries so spent the first hour in The Generalife, the gardens and summer palace of the Nasrid rulers. Its name means literally “garden of the architect” and the grounds consist of an imaginative series of patios, enclosed gardens and walkways. At its base is a wonderful summer palace with various decorated balconies.
Next stop was the Palacios Nazaries, its buildings show a superb use of light and space but they are principally a vehicle for ornamental stucco decoration. The palace is structured in three parts, each arrayed round an interior court and with a specific function. The sultans used the Mexuar, the first series of rooms, for business and judicial purposes. In the Serallo, beyond, they would receive embassies and distinguished guests. The last section, the Harem, formed their private living quarters and would have been entered by no one but their family and servants.
Next stop was the Palacio de Carlos V. The building is dominated by its interior circular courtyard where bullfights were once held and Tony tried to re-enact without a bull. On the lower floor is the Museo de la Alhambra, a collection of artefacts and on the upper floor is the Museo de Bella Artes. The best way to describe this building is as a circle within a rectangle.
We carried on through to the remnants of the barracks to the Alcazaba’s summit, the Torre de la Vela. The views from here over Granada are spectacular.
We left the Alhambra and stopped for lunch beneath the Alhambra and along the Rio Darro. After lunch we wandered through the Albaicin which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Another myriad of narrow lanes, ancient churches, and some wonderful views of the Alhambra Palace and the Cathedral if you are lucky enough to find them, which we did!
Our final visit was to the Cathedral and although the guide book described it as a disappointment, I have to disagree. Inside the church is light and airy due to its painted stonework and twenty giant pillars which push the central dome to a height of 30m. Tony stepped out one of the pillars and it took him 17 steps to circumnavigate. Wonderful stained glass windows and an amazing main alter area beautifully lit to show off the gold balustrades, stained glass windows and paintings that encompass it.
We are staying at an ACSI campsite, Alto de Vinuelas, just off the A92, small but with good facilities including a restaurant and small swimming pool. The bus stop is right outside for the centre of Granada and is only €1.40 each way per person. There are walking trails nearby in the North- Eastern arc of the Vega de Granada Lowlands.
Much to Tony’s delight I am now truly cathedral, ancient buildings, churches and palaces worn out and tomorrow we are heading back to the coast for hopefully five days of rest and relaxation. I am pooped from all the walking around and my brain hurts from all the historical data I have had to read.
Bring on the beach!